Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Thesis in Print

Although I noted it on Facebook, I neglected to post something here.  Given that I chronicled the entire journey of my graduate work from 2010 on, it seems only fitting that the final post (a little after the fact) be given to the day the bound copy of my thesis arrived in the mail.  As the picture shows it is a red hardbound book with the simple title on the spine that reads: "D. Engebretson - STM - 2016.  Inside the cover is the official certification of examination signed by the Rev. Thomas N. Buchan, Ph.D, my thesis director, and Garwood P. Anderson, Ph.D, the second reader. Buchan is noted as an Associate Professor of Church History and Director of Assessment.  Anderson, the only person who was consistent in my journey, is listed as Professor of New Testament and Greek.  The date of the certification is 4/29/2016.  The thesis was given a grade of "pass."  I didn't realize it until I saw this copy that there is a second possible grade, "Pass with distinction."  I'm not sure what I would have had to do to earn that level.  But I am happy to know it is finished.  The copy arrived on August 4.  It will now sit on a shelf at Nashotah House's library awaiting someone to discover it and maybe even read it.  Who knows....

1066 THE YEAR OF THE CONQUEST by David Howarth

In this very readable history David Howard chronicles the fateful and pivotal year 1066 from New
Year's Day to the end of the year.  The book begins with a very descriptive picture of life in a typical town of England at the beginning of the 11th century, and proceeds to describe the various events and personalities that formed the drama of that year.  As an historian Howard is to be commended for balancing his interpretation of events as he examines the available sources of the time.  The history of 1066 is a history with two viewpoints - one Norman and one English.  It is often said that history is written by the conquerors, and to some extent this is true of English history at this juncture.  Howard, however, sifts through the records taking into consideration biases and excesses, looking for the truth between the lines.  This book is a very readable history and helpful for getting a good picture of what happened that year along with the implications for the years to come.  The author also attempts to flesh out the primary characters of the story, seeing them not as legend would, but in true human perspective, emotions, conflicts, doubts and all.  As one reviewer summed it up: "A model of scholarly popular history." My copy is a Barnes and Nobel reprint from 1993.  The original was written in 1977.  I read this book, in part, to give me a better grounding in the history that begins the four book set of historical novels by Thomas Costain, The Conquerors (1949) that I intend to read next.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IN THE WAKE OF THE PLAGUE - THE BLACK DEATH & THE WORLD IT MADE by Norman F. Cantor (2001)

In the Wake of the Plague is a quick and easy read for a historical book.  After finishing The Great Mortality by Kelly I was interested in reading more on this fascinating event in history, so I decided to keep reading in this thematic area since I had another book covering the period.  By comparison, however, Kelly's book is far more informative.  Although Cantor was a credentialed historian with a Ph.D in history compared to Kelly's master's, I felt that Kelly spent more time researching and assembling his work.  Although Cantor includes sections of interesting historical information on the medieval era, it has a tendency to seem almost like 'filler' after a while.  In fact, he seems to spend more time on telling the stories of historical figures than he does telling the story of the Plague.  Toward the end of the book he does provide more specific treatment, yet even this has the sense of a light treatment, and I was surprised that he would give any credence to outlandish theories of the Plague's origin such as the theory that it came from outer space.  Like Kelly Cantor also spends a good amount of time expounding on the Jewish pogroms that occurred during the Plague years, and the heavy treatment at times seems out of proportion to the rest of the story - even in Kelly.  If I had to recommend one book over the other I would recommend Kelly's.  Interesting to note is that on Amazon the reviews are not very high for this book. 41% of the reviewers gave it only one star!